Latics earn three valuable points against Accrington Stanley in six-goal thriller at Christopher Park.
- EFL Youth Alliance Report: Wigan Athletic 4 Accrington Stanley 2.
- Latics extend their unbeaten run to 25 matches in 2018-19.
- Youth internationals Kyle Joseph and MacKenzie O'Neill on target alongside Charlie Jolley and Emeka Obi.
ACCRINGTON STANLEY 2
Despite Latics falling behind, youth internationals Kyle Joseph and MacKenzie O’Neill put the hosts in front, before substitute Charlie Jolley headed in the third, with Emeka Obi ensuring the three points went home with Latics, despite the visitors drawing level inside the 60th minute.
Latics, who hosted Accrington Stanley at Christopher Park for the second time this season, made three changes following on from their victory against Shrewsbury Town, with Neil Monaghan, Harry Jolley and Ryan Galvin replacing Victor Maffeo, Jensen Weir and Charlie Jolley respectively.
The hosts started in a 4-2-3-1 formation and after a cagey opening 20 minutes they had their first chance of the game after Harry Jolley‘s header was tipped onto the crossbar by the Accrington Stanley goalkeeper, before Joseph failed to convert the rebound from a tight angle.
The latter was involved again minutes later as Latics pushed for the breakthrough, Jolley’s inviting ball was met by Joseph, only for the Scotland youth international's volley to be well-saved.
Though, it was the visitors who took the lead just before the half hour mark after Latics failed to clear a free-kick and the ball was rifled past Bobby Jones by Harry Perritt.
It took the league leaders just five minutes to respond and equalise.
MacKenzie O’Neill, who opened the scoring in Latics’ last victory over Shrewsbury, beat two players before finding Mitchell Culshaw and his ball was instinctively flicked into the net by Joseph, with the forward netting his 23rd goal for the Under 18s so far this campaign.
The hosts completed their comeback five minutes before half-time. Jolley’s diagonal ball found O’Neill and the soon to be Northern Ireland youth international touched it down before exquisitely chipping the ball over the goalkeeper, the midfielder’s second goal in two games since his return from injury.
Despite pressure from the hosts to extend the lead, the visitors equalised in the 60th minute, Jack Bolton broke forward and his effort took a deflection, wrong-footing Latics goalkeeper, Jones.
Peter Murphy opted to make three changes in the hope of turning the result in Latics’ favour with Charlie Jolley and Divin Baningime both coming on and the latter came within inches of restoring the home sides lead, though his left-footed effort flashed across goal from a tight angle.
The changes paid off soon after when right-back Maffeo’s cross from the right was met by the head of Charlie Jolley at the back-post, to score his third goal in two games this week, having netted twice for the Development Squad in their 4-1 win against Notts County on Tuesday.
Latics ensured the three points in the 90th minute as substitute Luke Robinson’s corner was bundled home at the back-post by centre back Obi for his first goal of the season.
It was further preparation for Latics' fifth round tie in the FA Youth Cup against Liverpool on Wednesday 13 February.
Latics: Jones, H. Jolley (Maffeo 66), Galvin, Obi, Long, Monaghan, Culshaw (Baningime 62), McGuffie (Robinson 81), Joseph, Berry (C. Jolley 62), O’Neill (Aasgaard 84)